Here‘s a sobering figure about school kids with jailed parents in Indiana: The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s new "Kids Count" report says Indiana has more children with parents who are or have been incarcerated than most states.
The report ranks Indiana number two in the nation for jailed parents, trailing only Kentucky.
Oklahoma, Ohio and Michigan round out the top five.
Indiana Youth Institute President and CEO Bill Stanczykiewicz says drug activity, particularly the meth epidemic, may play a large role.
He says parental drug use creates a lack of stability in a child‘s life, which means children are often moved from one home and school to the next.
Stanczykiewicz says it‘s important to discreetly identify children with incarcerated parents through partnerships with organizations such as churches, service clubs and businesses.
"They're already embarrassed. There's already this stigma that Mom or Dad is locked up," says Stanczykiewicz. "So the first step is finding a subtle way to identify the kids so they can provide the help that is needed in the first place."
Stanczykiewicz says while many students with parents behind bars are passing the third grade reading exam and do go on to graduate from high school, poverty, food insecurity and a variety of social issues continue to present big challenges for schools and teachers.